US Holocaust Museum revokes Suu Kyi’s human rights award

Aung San Suu Kyi was a Mandela-like figure in Myanmar who spent years under house arrest for opposing the country’s military dictatorship. (AP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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US Holocaust Museum revokes Suu Kyi’s human rights award

WASHINGTON: The United States Holocaust Museum is revoking a major human rights award given to Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian leader, saying she has failed to respond adequately to the mass killings of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority.
The museum announced Wednesday that the Elie Wiesel Award given to Suu Kyi in 2012 would be rescinded. The move is just the latest in a series of blows to Suu Kyi’s international reputation, which has plummeted over the Rohingya massacres.
In response to the museum’s action, a spokesman for Suu Kyi said the decision appeared to be based on “the wrong information” and that it made the Myanmar government “very disappointed and sad.”
Suu Kyi was a Mandela-like figure in Myanmar who spent years under house arrest for opposing the country’s military dictatorship. She became an international rallying point and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her party won a landslide victory in 2015 and she assumed the newly created post of state counselor, although the military still retains significant political and economic power.
Hopes had been high for Suu Kyi to make the transition from revered opposition figure to reformist political leader, given her long campaign for democracy. Instead, human rights advocates consider her a disappointment, particularly in her response to the Rohingya killings.
The Holocaust Museum has embraced the plight of the Rohingya in recent years, and published a report in November that concluded there was “mounting evidence of genocide” committed by both the military and armed Buddhist extremists.
In a letter to Suu Kyi released Wednesday, the museum accused her government of obstructing United Nations investigators and promoting “hateful rhetoric” against the Rohingya community, even as it acknowledged she has little influence over the military.
The museum had hoped Suu Kyi “would have done something to condemn and stop the military’s brutal campaign and to express solidarity with the targeted Rohingya population,” the letter stated. “The severity of the atrocities in recent months demand that you use your moral authority to address this situation.”
Suu Kyi does not oversee her country’s military or its security operations that set off the exodus of Rohingya refugees, but three former fellow Nobel Peace laureates last month accused her and the army of committing genocide in northern Rakhine state. They said that as the country’s leader she cannot avoid responsibility. Her government has defended the military operation in the north and has embraced the prosecution of journalists along with other attempts to suppress and discredit the media.
Zaw Htay, Suu Kyi’s spokesman, said in response to a request for comment: “Myanmar has always been supportive of the Holocaust Museum’s principles and activities and the purposes of the museum. But now, now the latest situation in Rakhine state, we see that the Museum has no balance perceptions on us.”
He added: “We assume that the decision of revoking the award is also based on of the wrong information they have received. The Myanmar government is very disappointed and sad on the decision made by the Museum. And this decision will not have any effect on the supports from Myanmar people to the state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.”


Rohingya children are deprived of basic education, recent reports reveal

Updated 3 min 30 sec ago
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Rohingya children are deprived of basic education, recent reports reveal

SHEHAB SUMON DHAKA: About half of the Rohingya children in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, are growing up without any access to a minimum education facility, according to the latest report of Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), which was issued last week. It says 47 percent of Rohingya children under the age group of 3-14 don’t go to any learning center, while 98 percent of youth aged 14-24 are out of the education facility.
The education facilities provided by UN and NGO-run schools are still inadequate and offer only “informal education,” said Areez Rahman, spokesperson of BRAC (the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), the world’s largest non-governmental organization. The UN and NGO-run learning centers offer a little elementary education that provides only basic knowledge on Burmese language, English and mathematics. Rahman said there is no “unified curriculum” for all the learning centers in the refugee camp run by a different NGO.
At present, NGOs have prepared a curriculum by their own experts and taken approval from the UN children's fund UNICEF.
BRAC alone is running 365 learning centers in the Rohingya camps which cover about 30,000 students from the age of four to 14. “In our schools we are focusing on early-grade learning, basic literacy, numeracy, life-saving information, psycho-social support and life skills for the children in the camps,” Rahman told Arab News.
According to UNICEF, about 1,000 learning centers are providing education to the Rohingya children.
Alastair Lawson Tancred, UNICEF spokesperson in Cox’s Bazar, says there is no curriculum at present, “although UNICEF is working with the government to implement what is known as a Learning Competency Framework (LCF). Children aged between six and 14 receive an informal education at the learning centers, but children older than that currently only have access to adolescent clubs.
“However, efforts are now being made to address this so that learning centers can also be used by adolescent children,” Tancred added.
The urge of providing a better education to the Rohingya children is increasing every day. “We have already formed an LCF to upgrade the curriculum and the groundwork in this regard is completed. We are expecting to launch this curriculum from February next year after getting approval from the government authority,” said Mortuza Ahmed, sector information manager at ISCG. He said this new curriculum will be equivalent to fourth-grade primary education.
“Initially the Bangladesh government focused on the food, accommodation and health priorities of the refugees. Since their status in Bangladesh is yet to be settled and as Myanmar nationals they are not allowed to be taught in Bangle, our government is now working on a sustainable curriculum for these Rohingya children,” said Mohammad Shafiul Alam, primary education officer in Cox’s Bazar. "Our authority is closely working with UNICEF and UNHCR in this regard," he said.
The World Bank has approved a grant of $25 million to enhance the education facilities for the Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazar. In a statement on Saturday it said the additional financing on grant terms expands an existing project to help about 350,000 Rohingya children and adolescents to get a basic education at learning centers.
Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, said that without learning life skills and basic education, these Rohingya children can become a lost generation.
“In addition to providing access to learning opportunities, the grant will support psycho-social activities to help Rohingya children recover from shocks and to prevent exploitation. The grant will especially focus on girls, who are often victims of gender-based violence,” Fan says.
According to the WB statement, the financing, part of up to $480 million announced by the World Bank in June, will help establish 1,000 new learning centers and support about 500 existing ones in the camp areas. In addition, about 2,000 teachers and instructors will be recruited and trained at about 100 teacher training facilities, the World Bank said.